Rural parents looking for high-quality pre-school programs flocking to Hippocampus
20 January 2014 — Bangalore, India. Hippocampus Learning Centres Pvt Ltd (“Hippocampus”), a Bangalore-based leader in affordable private rural pre-school programs in India, announced that they have raised an additional INR 3.5 crore (US$600,000) of equity capital from Unitus Ventures (formerly Unitus Seed Fund), Acumen, and angel investors. Additionally, Hippocampus announced that they are now operating more than 100 rural learning centres in Karnataka serving more than 3,000 students, a 3x increase from the previous school year.
“We are very pleased with the progress we’ve made towards delivering an urban-quality pre-school experience which is accessible and affordable for most Indian rural families,” said Umesh Malhotra, CEO of Hippocampus. “With this new capital, we will be able to push forward with our expansion plans for the 2014-2015 academic year and continue to invest in preparation for further scaling up.”
Hippocampus is delivering quality early learning, at scale
Hippocampus operates with an activity-based learning pedagogy that brings an improved 21st century education model to replace the rote-based learning approaches currently dominant in rural India. When kids learn to read in pre-school, they’ll be ahead of others and be prepared to “read to learn” for the rest of their lives. Low-income, rural parents are already seeing the Hippocampus program benefits and are choosing to make the investment to enroll their children even with nearby government-run free alternatives that in many cases also include a free lunch.
“The quality of teaching and curriculum material in Hippocampus is very good. I can see that my child is learning and also eager to share that learning at home with us,” said Reshma, parent of a pre-schooler in one of Hippocampus’ centres in Mandya district, during a recently held parent-teacher meeting.
The fact that in such a short period of time that 3 percent of children of rural Mandya and Davangere districts of Karnataka are enrolled in a Hippocampus pre-school is a strong validation of acceptance by the communities in which Hippocampus operates.
Hippocampus expects to expand its enrollments to 7,500 students this coming year. No other commercial learning center is delivering quality and scale like Hippocampus does. And this is just the beginning. There are an estimated 30 million pre-school children in the villages of India who can benefit from having a great start to their formal education process to prepare themselves for a better future in India. Hippocampus is constantly receiving inquiries from rural districts across India inviting them to launch their program.
“We are excited about how the Hippocampus team has built a low-cost delivery model which can be profitable at a tuition fee of approximately Rs. 250 per month,” commented Dave Richards, Managing Partner, Unitus Ventures (formerly Unitus Seed Fund). “Hippocampus is part of an emerging movement in India to bring high-value, affordable services to the masses.”
Hippocampus employs local women from villages, provides them exhaustive training, and equips them to run the pre-schools within villages. To date, Hippocampus has trained over 200 teachers and expects to double that number over the next 2 years, providing them with employment and life-long skills that benefit rural communities.
About Hippocampus Learning Centres
Hippocampus Learning Centres was set up as a private company in 2011 to provide quality learning to children in rural India through its Pre-school education centres. Hippocampus is funded by Acumen, Lok Capital, and Unitus Ventures (formerly Unitus Seed Fund). Spearheading the activities in Hippocampus is Umesh Malhotra the CEO and Co-Founder, whose entrepreneurship experiences includes social enterprises, IT services, and restaurants. For his work with promoting reading amongst underprivileged children, Umesh was selected an Ashoka Fellow in 2008. Umesh is a graduate of IIT-Madras, one of India’s leading engineering institutes and began his career with Infosys Technologies. More about Hippocampus >
About Unitus Ventures (formerly Unitus Seed Fund)
Unitus Ventures (formerly Unitus Seed Fund) (USF) is India’s most active impact investor, funding BoP startups that serve large low-income populations. USF plans to grow its portfolio of 9 companies to at least 30 more startups in sectors including skill development / livelihoods, agriculture, technology for development, healthcare, education, and access to basic necessities. Unitus Ventures (formerly Unitus Seed Fund) is part of the Unitus Group, a successful financial services group operating in multiple emerging markets since 2000. USF has offices in Bangalore and Seattle. More about Unitus Ventures (formerly Unitus Seed Fund) >
Acumen is a not-for-profit working to change the way the world tackles poverty by investing in companies, leaders and ideas. We invest patient capital in business models that deliver critical goods and services to the world’s poor, improving the lives of millions. Since 2001, Acumen has invested more than $89 million in 82 companies across South Asia and Africa. We are also working to build a global community of emerging leaders that believe in creating a more inclusive world through the tools of both business and philanthropy. Please visit www.acumen.org for more information.